Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

An exercise in posture

WASHINGTON - May 31 - Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, issued the following statement today on Iran:

“The US must not participate in phony diplomacy and diplomatic head fakes in order to force our nation, and the world, into war with Iran.

“Iran has reached out to the United States seeking negotiations to end the current stand-off peacefully. The United States should enter into direct, high-level, negotiations with Iran to peacefully end this stand off. This is exactly what over 70 Members of Congress stated last week when they signed onto a letter, I authored, to President Bush.

“Setting conditions on such talks appears to be an effort to ensure their failure and will only put this nation on the fast track to another unnecessary war.

“The US and the world community would be well served to listen to the words of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohamed El Baradei who stated yesterday that Iran is not an immediate nuclear threat.

“This Administration, once again assisted by a gullible media, seems determined to repeat the very mistakes that led this nation into, and keeps us in, the ill-advised war in Iraq.

“A peaceful solution to the stand-off with Iran must be the top domestic priority of our nation. The US must begin direct negotiations with Iran, at the highest level, and without predetermined conditions set to ensure failure.

“War with Iran can, and must be, avoided.”

Meanwhile, Kindasleezy sez: "As soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues [Britain, France and Germany] and meet with Iran's representatives."

Joseph Cirincione, an expert on nuclear diplomacy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: "There's no question this is a major policy shift, but we don't yet know this is going to lead a diplomatic breakthrough. There are people in both capitals that don't want these negotiations to happen."
Really just about everybody, in both cities, except for Dennis Kucinich's and his 70 colleagues in Congress.

Meanwhile, the Iranian mouthpiece, just as delusional as Saddam's mouthpieces when they think they can stand up to Darth Rumsfeld's shock and awe machine, and quite as delusional as the neo theocons who think that shock and awe can really pacify a nation, sez: "It's evident that the Islamic Republic of Iran only accepts proposals and conditions that meet the interests of the nation and the country. Halting enrichment definitely doesn't meet such interests... Given the insistence by Iranian authorities on continuing uranium enrichment, Rice's comments can be considered a propaganda move."

Only if you believe her; otherwise its just words from a cold beotch who likes to hear herself talk.

Cirincione seems to be one of the good guys out there in Washington, too. So make that at least 72 in DC looking to keep Kindasleezy from doing her leather thing in Tehran.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A few words about the Long War on Terra

Dying For A Mistake

Paul Rogat Loeb

May 29, 2006

What does it mean , this Memorial Day, to die in a war so founded on lies?

While George W. Bush assures our soldiers they fight for Iraqi freedom and to “make America safer for generations to come,” 82 percent of Iraqis, according to a British Ministry of Defense poll, say they’re "strongly opposed" to the presence of American and British troops and 45 percent justify attacks against them. This gives rise to what psychologist Robert Jay Lifton calls “an atrocity-creating situation.”

Lifton first coined the phrase during Vietnam. He now uses it to describe a “counterinsurgency war in which U.S. soldiers, despite their extraordinary firepower, feel extremely vulnerable in a hostile environment,” amplified by “the great difficulty of tracking down or even recognizing the enemy.” This sense of an environment out of control has seeded the ground for Abu Ghraib and for massacres at the villages of Haditha and Mukaradeeb, already being compared to My Lai. Former Army sniper Jody Casey recently described his unit keeping extra spades on their vehicles so that if they killed innocent Iraqis in response to an attack, they could throw one next to the corpses to make it appear as if those killed were preparing a roadside bomb.

The Iraq-Vietnam comparisons may seem cheap or easy to make, but it’s increasingly becoming difficult to ignore the parallels, except that—unlike Bush—Nixon didn’t start the conflict in Vietnam. The Vietnam War began with Eisenhower's first deployment of soldiers and CIA agents in support of the French, expanded with Kennedy, and escalated dramatically under Johnson. But it became Nixon’s war when he extended its carnage to Laos and Cambodia, massively increased the bombing campaigns, and lied and lied again in justifying his actions.

Bush may lack Nixon’s scowl, but he’s equally insulated from the consequences of his actions in Iraq and elsewhere. He came to power riding on the success of Nixon’s racially divisive “Southern Strategy,” which enshrined the Republicans as the party of backlash. He won reelection by similarly manipulating polarization and fear. Like Nixon, he’s flouted America’s laws while demonizing political opponents. His insistence that withdrawing from Iraq would create a world where terrorists reign echoes Nixon’s claim that defeat in Vietnam would leave the U.S. ''a pitiful, helpless giant.''

Last December Bush called the Iraqi election “a watershed moment in the story of freedom.” But if our invasion and occupation has created a watershed moment, it’s one where rivers of resentment and bitterness may poison the global landscape for decades to come. And when Bush talks much of promoting freedom, the world sees mostly the freedom of America to do whatever we please—no matter how many nations oppose us. America’s Vietnam-era leaders also proclaimed their embrace of freedom, while helping overthrow elected governments from Brazil to Chile to Greece. The war they waged in Southeast Asia killed 2 to 5 million Vietnamese, plus more deaths in Laos and Cambodia. As with Iraq, those making the key decisions were profoundly insulated; no Congressman, Senator or Cabinet member lost a son in Vietnam and only 28 had sons who served. In Iraq, those who are the most detached from the costs of war led the rush to invade and the sole Congressman or Senator with a son who initially served was Democrat Tim Johnson, who the Republicans still attacked as insufficiently patriotic. While the sons of Republican Senator Kit Bond and three Republican congressmen have since also been deployed, most who initiated this war have never been intimately touched by it.

Iraq holds another unsettling parallel with Vietnam in the lives of many who will come back from the war with shattered or missing limbs or lasting psychological trauma from witnessing the unwitnessable. Given the number of vets who’ve survived injuries that would have killed them 35 years ago, and Bush’s cuts in VA programs and allied social services, the impact in damaged lives may be even greater. According to a study by former World Bank chief economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the Iraq war is already likely to cost as much as 1 trillion dollars when we consider consequences like lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, like the war’s role in higher oil prices. Because these costs are delayed and even more invisible than the combat deaths in a time when even photos of the military coffins have been banned, they barely register except for those most intimately involved.

“I didn’t want to die for Nixon,” said a man I met recently in a Seattle park. He’d served on military bases in a half dozen states, then had a car accident just before being shipped to Vietnam. “The accident was lucky,” he said. “It was a worthless war and I didn’t want to go.”

I agreed. I said I admired those who fought in World War II—we owe them the debt of our freedom. But to die for Nixon’s love of power, fear of losing face, deceptive vindictiveness—to die for those values was obscene. Nixon’s war, the man said, had nothing noble about it. And neither did Iraq.

Counting back to Eisenhower, the United States fought in Vietnam for over 20 years. We’ve now been in and out of Iraq for nearly 40, ever since the 1963 coup when the CIA first helped the Baath Party overthrow the founder of OPEC—and intervening in Iran since our 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh, who we replaced with the dictatorial Shah. With Bush’s administration promising no immediate end in sight, we’re now told it will be up to “future presidents” even to consider withdrawing our troops. Who wants to be the last person to die for George Bush?

I wouldn't be so quick to blame Ike for Viet Nam. After all, who was his Vice-President?

But let me wrap up this post by invoking the Rude Pundit on The Republican Lie of Moral Equivalence: How a Flea is Like an Elephant:

...the lie of moral equivalence is all they have. Look at George W. Bush yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery. He spoke of the dead Americans from Iraq buried there, and veterans from the war gathered with "veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts across the globe, whose friends and comrades also lie in this sacred ground." Bush has to make sure that World War II (or the American Revolution or whatever "good war" he needs at the moment) is invoked to make his massively fucked up adventure in Iraq mean so much more than it actually does. No, Bush is wrong when he said, "All who are buried here understood their duty. They saw a dark shadow on the horizon, and went to meet it. They understood that tyranny must be met with resolve, and that liberty is always the achievement of courage." Leaving aside those who were drafted didn't exactly go "to meet" the dark shadows because it was their duty, all the dead are not alike, except in that they are dead.

For to compare the useless dead of Vietnam and Iraq to those who died in an actual, real battle against tyranny in World War II is to desecrate the graves of both. Bush may as well have taken two skeletons and held them as puppets said, "Here's a guy who killed him some Nazis; here's a guy who killed him some gooks. Don't they look alike? When I jiggle 'em, don't they just rattle so pretty? Hey, Nazi-killer, say 'Hi' to Gook-killer while I drink this glass of water." They both fought, they both died - which one would you have die for you still?

I say send the puppet masters to prison for a long, long time, at least as long as their war lasts.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What Border?

TIJUANA, Mexico -- Angelica Escoto drops her children at school and leaves the country. She's back every afternoon to pick them up.

She is among more than 100,000 Mexicans who cross "the line" into California every day to work, shop, study, golf, walk on the beach, see a movie or attend a San Diego Padres game. Some 10 million Mexicans have border passes allowing them to travel up to 25 miles into the U.S. whenever they want.

They are part of the unique borderland between the U.S. and Mexico, a world of constant legal crossings that defies the emotional debate and fears of illegal immigration that led to President Bush's decision to deploy National Guard troops to the border.

The welcome mat is out for these bicultural fronterizo Mexicans, who are comfortable on either side. Every four days in Tijuana they cross in numbers equal to how many illegal immigrants sneak across the entire U.S. border every year to stay.

The frenetic back-and-forth contradicts the image of the U.S. as an increasingly unwelcoming place or of Mexico as a country that can't hold on to its people. But border dwellers worry that the U.S. is moving away from such openness and that there could be a chilling effect on them.

As the U.S. House and Senate prepare to hammer out final immigration-control legislation, officials here are striving to emphasize the mutually beneficial aspects of the border traffic, such as the $3 million that Mexicans spend in the San Diego area every day.

"The 200 miles on each side of the border have a dynamic of their own. It's like a third nation," said Rossana Fuentes-Berain, an expert in U.S.-Mexico relations. "It couldn't have developed like that with the spirit of what we're seeing, the idea that the U.S. is fencing itself off."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who met with Mexican President Vicente Fox on Friday, warned that troops and barriers could hinder his city's $25 billion-a-year trade with Mexico, including spending by the 1.5 million Mexican tourists who visit each year.

"There's a circulation that's not well understood in Washington, nor in Mexico City," said Guillermo Alonso Meneses, an anthropologist at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana.

The border's complexities were evident last week when San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders went to Washington in the midst of the Senate's immigration debate to lobby for an additional border post to alleviate bottlenecks in legal crossings.

The contrasts are seen just inside San Diego's busiest crossing, where the imposing steel border fence stands above a factory outlet mall called "The Shops at Las Americas," built to attract a constant stream of Mexican day shoppers.

World's busiest border crossing

The San Ysidro Port of Entry between Tijuana and San Diego is the busiest border crossing in the world. But shoppers, legal agricultural workers and mothers carpooling children to private U.S. schools also spill into Calexico, Calif.; El Paso, McAllen and Brownsville in Texas; and other cities all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The border divides not only two countries but also thousands of families. They are fluent not only in Spanish and English but also dollars and pesos and a kind of border-ese about traffic backups and on which side to find the freshest fruit or cheapest gasoline.

"It would be impossible to say, `Don't come,'" said Cristina Alatorre, 42, a U.S. resident waiting to cross back after visiting her sister. "Everybody has family on each side..."

News to Lou Dobbs and all the neo theo cons freaking at all the melanin: the premier Navy port/ resort/ Carlyle banking hub on the west coast couldn't function without cheap Mexican labor.

There is big Mexican money there too.

Perhaps the thing the racists really hate the most: beautiful Hispanic women and men living and loving and marrying and breeding happily with the locals. I'm sure there's nothing that makes the Minutemen fume more.

San Diego is one of the more beautiful cities I've seen, with a heavy police presence... the better to keep the glass and steel monoliths displacing the traditional Spanish architecture.

If there ever is a border crackdown, there will be massive unrest- and massive upheaval, because there is a big faction of the Company that will not tolerate it.

It depends on what the meaning of "terror" is.

There is no "War on Terror."

There is, however, a "war" on the U. S. Constitution.

After September 11, 2001, we’ve learned that we can take a punch and move on. We’ve faced far worse threats to our national survival in our history - the Civil War, the War of 1812, World War II to name a few - but we never abandoned our Constitution. Until now.

Terror is an emotion. Emotions are part of human nature and cannot be eradicated. A "War on Terror" is therefore a war on humanity. The Bush administration has exploited the fear and shock of a nation in the wake of a surprising and dramatic act of violence to whip national fear and paranoia into a constant boil. Why?

The evidence suggests the whole point has been to seize power and steal money. We are witnessing a creeping coup in the United States, the overthrow of the idea, promulgated by our founders and by writers like Tom Paine, that the "Law is King..."

Unfortunately to many Dear Leader's word is Law.

Whatever the latest word happens to be.

It's been a long Memorial Day weekend, mostly spent around people whose worldview is somewhat skewed. But what else should I expect from a soccer tournament in S.E. Michigan?

It stared at me in the New York Pravda today, as an amazing fountain of bullshit from a Darth Rumsfeld toady as I've ever read, and the crime is the number of people that will suck it right up:

...We are at the outset of a long war, and not just in Iraq. Yet it is being led politically by the short-sighted, from both sides of the aisle. The deterioration of American support for the mission in Iraq is indicative not so much of our military conduct there, where real gains are coming slowly but steadily, but of chaotic leadership.

Somehow Operation Iraqi Freedom, not a large war by America's historical standards, has blossomed into a crisis of expectations that threatens our ability to react to future threats with a fist instead of five fingers.

Obviously this individual expect Queensbury rules.

...Instead of rallying we are squabbling, even as the slow fuse burns.

I might agree but suspect we differ on the nature of the coming explosion.

One party is overly sanguine, unwilling to acknowledge its errors. The other is overly maudlin, unable to forgive the same...

Main Entry: maud·lin
Pronunciation: 'mod-l&n
Function: adjective
Etymology: alteration of Mary Magdalene; from her depiction as a weeping penitent
1 : drunk enough to be emotionally silly
2 : weakly and effusively sentimental

...The Bush administration seeks to insulate the public from the reality of war, placing its burden on the few. The press has tried to fill that gap by exposing the raw brutality of the insurgency; but it has often done so without context, leaving a clear implication that we can never win...

Win what? You've actually got an objective?

...In the past, the American public could turn to its sons for martial perspective...

Okay, I qualify. I'm a son of America. You aren't going to listen to me?

... Soldiers have historically been perhaps the country's truest reflection, a socio-economic cross-section borne from common ideals. The problem is, this war is not being fought by World War II's citizen-soldiers. Nor is it fought by Vietnam's draftees. Its wages are paid by a small cadre of volunteers that composes about one-tenth of 1 percent of the population — America's warrior class.

You know. The Uber-mensch.

The insular nature of this group — and a war that has spiraled into politicization — has left the Americans disconnected and confused.

Spiraled? It landed in the political arena on 9-11, when Darth Rumsfeld decided to let the bin Ladens leave and move against Saddam.

...It's as if they have been invited into the owner's box to settle a first-quarter disagreement on the coach's play-calling. Not only are they unprepared to talk play selection, most have never even seen a football game.

And those who've seen this game played regularly for the last 50 years- well, who cares what you think anyway!

This confusion, in turn, affects our warriors, who are frustrated by the country's lack of cohesion and the depiction of their war. Iraq hasn't been easy on the military, either. But the strength of our warriors is their ability to adapt.

First, in battle you move forward from where you are, not where you want to be. No one was more surprised that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction than the soldiers who rolled into Iraq in full chemical protective gear.

No doubt the soldiers were surprised. But the Administration and the Pentagon weren't.

But it is time for the rest of the country to do what the military was forced to: get over it.

Exactly why?

If we can put 2003's debates behind us, there is a swath of common ground on which to focus. Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq.

The Democrats I know- as opposed to the DINOcrats supported by iron triangle money- suggest the loss was inevitable and has already occurred.

... The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies. Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.

Goal being: how do you define win? Genocide as an answer to the "general insurgency"?

Second, America's conscience is one of its greatest strengths. But self-flagellation, especially in the early stages of a war against an enemy whose worldview is uncompromising, is absolutely hazardous. Three years gone and Iraq's most famous soldiers are Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England, a victim and a criminal, respectively.

No, two victims of Chancellor Rumsfeld's policies and orders

...Abu Ghraib remains the most famous battle of the war.

Soldiers are sick of apologizing for a sliver of malcontents who are not at all representative of the new breed.

Those Uber-mensch, again, the few, the proud, the religiously genocidal.

But they are also sick of being pitied. Our warriors are the hunters, not the hunted, and we should celebrate them as we did in the past, for while our tastes have changed, warfare — and the need to cultivate national guardians — has not. As Kipling wrote, "The strength of the pack is the wolf."

Strangely, most of us don't regard ourselves as wolves. Perhaps you belong in a wildlife reserve. Or better yet, behind bars.

Finally, today's debates are not high-spirited so much as mean-spirited. To allow polarizing forces to dominate the argument by insinuating false motives on one side or a lack of patriotism on the other is to obscure long-term security decisions that have to be made now.

On the contrary, I'd like to state for the record here you have both false motives and a lack of patritism. The America you want to create is nothing like a republican democracy.

We are clashing with an enemy who has been at war with us in one form or another for two decades. Our military response may take decades more...

And there we have it. Either it's the enemy we created he's talking about, or the enemy who's been fighting the iron triangle for the last 20 years.

I like Krugman's take today much better: they're swift-boating the planet, and the war, too.

The war on terror is a real war, alas. The Constitution is terrifying to the criminals who make war on it.

This Memorial Day, Eat a Peach

"How are you helping the revolution?"

"I'm hitting a lick for peace, and every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace."

Support the Troops. What they give our nation is far too important to be wasted on oil and enriching the bank accounts of the Carlyle Group.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Nukes are No Way to Power an Industrial Economy

The "powers that be" have begun a new campaign to convince us that we must have dozens or hundreds -- worldwide, thousands -- of new nuclear power plants to avert the threat of global warming.

Three groups have teamed up for the campaign: the Cheney-Bush administration, the nuclear power corporations, and most recently the New York Times. The campaign has two official mascots -- Christine Todd Whitman, the failed former head of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Patrick Moore, the widely-mistrusted former head of Greenpeace International.

Each of the three campaign partners has a different agenda, but they all want you to believe that building hundreds or thousands of new nuclear power plants is the best way to meet the world's need for electricity -- that nuclear power is safer, cleaner and cheaper than all the many alternatives.

Electricity can be generated by many kinds of machines. Commercial- scale electric plants exist now based on wind turbines, photovoltaic panels that turn sunlight directly into electricity, geothermal plants that draw their heat from the deep earth (one to two miles below ground), turbines powered by natural gas, coal-fired dinosaurs, and nuclear power plants. There are other ways to make electricity but these are the main ones in commercial use today.

Nuclear power plants are by far the most complicated way to make electricity. Nuclear power starts by mining radioactive uranium out of the ground, then "enriching" it in a centrifuge that can make nuclear fuel but can also make fuel for an A-bomb. (Iran's current plan to operate its own centrifuges is what all the wrangling is about with Tehran.) The enriched uranium is then stuffed into a nuclear power plant where it undergoes a controlled fission reaction, splitting atoms to release tremendous quantities of heat, which is used to boil water to turn a turbine to make electricity.

...We're not sure how much nukes can reduce global warming, but we should spend billions more taxpayer dollars to subsidize nukes? This is no basis for national policy. Between 1948 and 1998, civilian nuclear power received at least $77 billion dollars of federal subsidies (in constant 2005 dollars). The insurance industry still won't touch nuclear power with a ten-foot pole so Congress has to limit the industry's liability by law -- a huge subsidy to the nuclear power corporations. Wall Street won't touch it either without huge additional federal guarantees and subsidies. This is a technology that falls on its face unless Uncle Sam provides a permanent crutch.

We should ask ourselves, Why aren't we willing to spend $77 billion to subsidize energy-saving measures, and the development of existing minimally-polluting technologies like wind turbines with hydrogen storage, and hydrogen fuel cells to make electricity and power vehicles? Even Ford and General Motors -- not the brightest bulbs on the corporate landscape -- say they will offer us hydrogen fuel- cell vehicles in the next few years. These technologies exist now.

Solar technologies such as wind power have an even better safety record than nuclear and they too are looking more affordable as the cost of oil rises...

...These alternative sources of energy don't fit the divergent agendas of any of the three pro-nuke campaigners. Of all these alternative energy options, only nuclear power offers to create an endless series of international crises (think Iran, think North Korea) requiring macho threats of military showdown at the OK corral. Only nuclear power requires multi-billion-dollar centralized machines that can be controlled by a tiny handful of investors -- thus empowering Wall Street elites instead of empowering farmers who would be only too happy to put wind turbines in their corn fields. (A farmer in Colorado is likely to receive $3000 to $5000 per year for hosting a single wind turbine on a quarter-acre of land, instead of producing 40 bushels of corn worth $120 or beef worth perhaps $15 on that same land.)

Of all the available alternatives, only nuclear power relies on machines that require armed guards, anti-terrorist exercises and simulations, evacuation drills and other paramilitary apparatus. Only nukes with their threat of rogue weapons can provide endless excuses to spy on other nations and search through the phone records from every citizen. Only nuclear power with its unbreakable link to A- bombs "requires" the President to declare habeas corpus null and void, and to declare that he and Mr. Rumsfeld will torture anyone they choose to torture any time it suits them, thus commencing the Great Unraveling of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was imposed upon Real Americans by that class traitor Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his commie-loving wife back in 1948.

In sum, none of the available alternative energy sources can match nuclear power's ability to thwart the nation's inherent democratic tendencies and stop the nation's slide toward local control, small- scale enterprise, self-reliance, and a populist political reawakening. Without nuclear power and petroleum to anchor their centralized authority and provide excuses for their military adventures, the "powers that be" will soon seem very much like the little man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. And that would never do. It simply would never do...

A good read, and timely. Oil, coal, and nuclear energy perpetuate a certain private investment group, its managers, and its clients. On the other hand, as outlined here, the development of biotechnology could produce inexpensive virtually inexhaustible sources of hydrocarbon and hydrogen- coupled to solar energy.

But once the right bugs are bioengineered, any nation- or city or town or co-operative for that matter- should be able to cultivate them and process the effluent.

That certainly won't do.

After all, it's hard to justify hegemony in a world suddenly without limiting resources.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Iron Triangle Runs the Pentagon, not the Other Way Around

After a heads up from chicago dyke at Correntewire I've started reading Empire Burlesque.

The quality of work out here in progressive cyberspace pleasantly, consistently, surprises me.

Chris says exactly what I feel about the DINOcrats going belly up over Darth Rumsfeld's takeover of the CIA:

...Sure, old Peeper-Creeper Hayden would have been confirmed in any case, given the Republicans' bootlicking obedience to the White House, but couldn't the Democrats at have made a pretense of opposition? Couldn't they have at least registered the slightest demurral against Hayden's nomination?

No, they could not. They are a fetid sack of quivering jellyfish: spineless, boneless, brainless, useless. Now watch them come begging for your money between now and November: "Oh please, give generously to our noble cause! We're the only ones who can save you from the big bad Bushists!"

No, you're not. You won't stand up now, why should you stand up later? You won't do anything except the same damn thing you've been doing for the past five years: acting as eager, willing enablers of evil. You've done it again today with this vote. You'll do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next...

John Nichols at The Nation is right there on it too:

...Hayden's involvement as head of the National Security Agency with the illegal warrantless wiretapping program initiated by the Bush administration, his role in the secret accumulation of the phone records of tens of millions of Americans for surveillance purposes, his unapologetic rejection of the rule of law and his limited acquaintance with the Constitution would surely have stalled his nomination. And the fact that a member of the military should not head the civilian intelligence agency that is charged with provided unbiased information to elected officials – as opposed to the Pentagon line – would have finished Hayden off.

In the face of a united Democratic opposition, a sufficient number of Senate Republicans, ill at ease with the administration's reckless approach and increasingly concerned about the damage President Bush and his aides are doing to their party's credibility and political prospects, would have abandoned Hayden.

Unfortunately, there is no opposition party in Washington.

There is, instead, a Democratic Party that, when push comes to shove regularly allows itself to be shoved.

So it come as little surprise that Hayden's nomination has sailed through the Senate, winning approval Friday by a 78-15 vote. Most Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, joined the vast majority of Republicans in rubberstamping George W. Bush's poke-in-the-eye pick to head the CIA...

Chris also takes the long view about the PentaclePentagon takeover of the entire governmental structure, although it may be a bit more complex than the review of James Carroll's House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power indicates:

The first civilian to see the plans, during the Kennedy administration, was, ironically enough, Daniel Ellsberg – the Pentagon consultant who later leaked the "Pentagon Papers," revealing the disastrous lies behind America's war in Vietnam. What Ellsberg found was moral insanity almost beyond imagining. The only plan proposed by the "guardians" was an all-out nuclear strike on every city in the Soviet Union, on the Warsaw Pact nations and China as well, with a deliberately low-balled estimate of 400 million people killed immediately. There were "no intermediate steps, no flexibility, and no warnings" incorporated in the plan, which could be triggered by a range of non-nuclear provocations, some posing no direct threat to the United States at all. What's more, the high priest of the nuclear cult, Gen. Curtis LeMay, reserved the right to launch this genocidal fury on his own, as a first strike, if he suspected the Soviets were preparing to attack.

Civilian control of the military was thus exposed as an empty myth; the center of power in the American government had shifted from the decisions of democratically elected leaders to the imperatives of procurement and militarist paranoia emanating from the five-sided fortress raised up in a Virginia wasteland known as Hell's Bottom...

Sort of. Particularly nowadays I think there's good evidence the real locus of power uses the Pentagon as a front.

Hence the long list of professionals who've quit the government- and the military.

The Pentagon isn't just the military anymore; in fact, the military is becoming much less military and far more outsourced corporate security.

When you outsource your nation's security, it's possible for someone else to view national interest as part of their profit margin.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Special Plans: Whole New Realities at Warp Speed

Here we go again, with the reality-based responding to new Rovian-Rumsfeldian initiatives while their record black budget Special Plans Office burps whole new bubbles into the foam of the multiverse...

...The Bush administration has built a new full fledged war plan for China, the first new conventional war plan since the end of the Cold War.

Yesterday, the Pentagon released its annual report to Congress on China's military power, a report that sees an increased buildup.

The People's Liberation Army "is engaged in a sustained effort to interdict, at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might deploy to the western Pacific," the report said. Long-term trends in China's development of nuclear and conventional weapons "have the potential to pose credible threats to modern militaries operating in the region."

China's military buildup and power projection capabilities, the report says, are still focused primarily on Taiwan, and the country has positioned as many as 790 ballistic missiles opposite the island.

"The balance between Beijing and Taiwan is heading in the wrong direction," Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman says, adding that "maybe our job is to be the equalizer if a contingency arises."

The equalizer is Operations Plan (OPLAN) 5077, one of only three completed and full-fledged war plans of the U.S. military (I had previously speculated that CONPLAN 5077 was Korea related, but military sources have corrected me and provided additional details.)

The 5077 plan to defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack dates back from the Reagan administration, and has been successively updated and expanded over the years. Until 2001, the plan was what was called a "CONPLAN," which is an operations plan in concept only. This means that the general American courses of action were identified but the plan itself was only kept in abbreviated form, lacking either the assignment of forces or much of the details of logistics and transport needed for implementation.

In August 2001, "Change 1" to the previous CONPLAN 5077 upgraded the contingency to a full OPLAN, with assigned forces and more detailed annexes and appendices. The Pacific Command developed a new "strategic concept" for the Taiwan contingency in December 2002, and an updated plan was produced in July 2003. Last year based upon new 2004 guidance from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and after two conferences worked out the assignment of U.S. forces in detail, a final Taiwan defense plan was published.

Pacific Command OPLAN 5077-04, as it is currently known, includes air, naval, ground/amphibious, and missile defense forces and "excursions" to defend Taiwan. Options include maritime intercept operations in the Taiwan straits, attacks on Chinese targets on the mainland, information warfare and "non-kinetic" options, even the potential use of American nuclear weapons...

Darth Rumsfeld the Equalizer. Chancellor Peacemaker they call him no doubt.

Somebody ought to explain the math of the consequences of unleashing war on most of the human race to this idiot, on a nation whose nationals have been intimately involved with the development of the technological base of his dearest defense efforts.

Unleashing a war against China would not turn into another Middle Eastern battle-pork fest for the private contractors of the Carlyle Group.

Sure, with robotic warfighters they might keep up against the sheer numbers- if they had a whole defense industry geared to churn out millions of them.

But these aren't the same Chinese the Chancellor saw in his world tours under Nixon or even Reagan.

The new China could build- and churn out- their own warbots faster than we could.

Once those roll over the scorched earth, we've left the neighborhood of John Titor's timeline completely. Entering, of course, the neighborhood of John Connor's.

Hopefully somebody on the Board of the Company will keep this in mind and retire the idiots before they start to go down this road. But I doubt it. Whether or not something works the way they want it to is a secondary consideration when you're thinking chaos magic.

Mind Gaming the $ystem

Another link from the Cautious Pessimist.

The PentaclePentagon's sponsoring of video games:

Venezuela lawmakers blast video game

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A U.S. company's video game simulating an invasion of Venezuela is supposed to hit the shelves next year, but it's already raising the ire of lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez...

Yes, a world in flames is so exciting to a 12-year old boy, or a Secretary of Defense.

..."Pandemic has no ties to the US government," says Greg Richardson, the firm's vice president of commercial operations. That's the sound of hairs splitting. Pandemic Studios is a Pentagon subcontractor through the aegis of the "Institute for Creative Technologies," launched by the US Army in 1998 with $45 million as a go-between with the entertainment and gaming industries. Pandemic is the developer of military training simulations such as Full Spectrum Command, commercially available as Full Spectrum Warrior for gaming on Playstation and XBox. ("A quantum-leap forward in battlefield simulation" says Game Informer. "Enlist Now" for updates.) "Within days of its release" in 2004, "gamers figured out the cheat code to unlock the Army-only version hidden on the commercial discs, featuring less flashy graphics but smarter opponents." (Gee, how careless can the Army get?)

The Pentagon is co-parenting Pandemic with its unlikely - or possibly inevitable - same sex sugar daddy: U2's Bono. His Elevation Partners spent $300 million last November to bring the Studio together with Bioware "to create the world's best funded and largest independent game development house." Now there's a cause...

Pope Ratzo would be is proud of him.

Somewhere in the multiverse, Carol Wojtyla weeps.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

No Wonder Cheney Classified It All

National Security, indeed.

The Bu$hCo-Enron connection.

Dear Leader Makes an Offer Denny Can't Refuse

Buzzflash has a good take on the on-and-off again FBI investigation of Dennis Hastert.

The warning: all that's theirs is Dear Leader's too. The Rethuglican spear carriers should expect no more privacy than anyone else. Or else.

If this speculative fiction was true, it raises the interesting possibility that what brought the Hammer down might also have benefited elements in the Company or at least pleased the whims of the Godfather.

You can even go as far as the Cautious Pessimist does and suggest that Fitmas itself will be something of a contrived holiday, when and if it ever arrives, benefiting the winners of the current battle in the cold Civil War more than the American system itself.

...Fitzmas, if it ever comes, is a religious holiday, because those whose heads make fine dance floors for its sugar plum fairies live by the faith that Fitzgerald will serve up more than failed pornographer Scooter Libby. Fitzianity demands nothing from its adherents except patience and wants nothing more than their speculation. God forbid that they should do something.

And the sham promise of this slave religion is nothing more than a few yellow cards to offenders long after the game has already been called in their favour. What kind of basket is that to carry all the rotten eggs of this wrecking crew? If Rove ever is indicted, so what? The Bush-by-proxy Reagan White House saw the most indictments in US history, and yet it's remembered fondly as a late golden age. Of course, this Bush White House won't be remembered that way, but it no longer matter who remembers what anymore. After all, American politics isn't exactly a popularity contest.

Chomsky's critique of "conspiracy theory" - at least those which pertain to conspiracies that hold no interest for him, such as JFK's assassination - is that their focus is personalities rather than structures of society. That's so wrong it's almost backwards, particularly here. Either those with big hopes for Fitzgerald's efforts believe certain heads must roll to set America right again, or they're just looking for the therapeutic benefit of striking back. And personalities are all we can touch through institutional justice. The deep politics embedded in the structures of power are removed from discussion and correction, and will, if left alone - as they usually are - continually renew themselves. It can spare a few heads for a Fitzmas because it's not a real guillotine...

Meanwhile, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald suggested Cheney would be a logical government witness because he could authenticate notes he jotted on a July 6, 2003, New York Times opinion piece by a former U.S. ambassador critical of the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald said Cheney’s “state of mind” is “directly relevant” to whether I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s former top aide, lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity and what he subsequently told reporters...

In the Reptilican halls of power, tension rises, as the factions vie for control of the turf. While the crocs roll in Washington, each trying to rip off the biggest piece of the body politic, on other coasts DINOcrats and more progressive politicians square off to decide whether or not the Company completely owns their party too.

But all the while the politicians respond to the realities they perceive, the Man in Black gathers his power, unelected and unobserved, to change the realities they are allowed to perceive knowing that for the players perception is everything.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pravda on the Waterboard

The Bu$hCo faction of the Company wants to have their cake and eat everyone else's, too.

This will have consequences: the $hip of $tatement may become leakier still.

It's hard to say which was more bizarre about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's threat to prosecute The Times for revealing President Bush's domestic spying program: his claim that a century-old espionage law could be used to muzzle the press or his assertion that the administration cares about enforcing laws the way Congress intended.

Mr. Gonzales said on Sunday that a careful reading of some statutes "would seem to indicate" that it was possible to prosecute journalists for publishing classified material. He called it "a policy judgment by Congress in passing that kind of legislation," which the executive is obliged to obey.

Mr. Gonzales seemed to be talking about a law that dates to World War I and bans, in some circumstances, the unauthorized possession and publication of information related to national defense. It has long been understood that this overly broad and little used law applies to government officials who swear to protect such secrets, and not to journalists.

But in any case, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Bush have not shown the slightest interest in upholding constitutional principles or following legislative guidelines that they do not find ideologically or politically expedient.

Mr. Gonzales served as White House counsel and as attorney general during the period Mr. Bush concocted more than 750 statements indicating that the president would not obey laws he didn't like, or honor the recorded intent of those who passed them. Among the most outrageous was Mr. Bush's statement that he did not consider himself bound by a ban on torturing prisoners. Mr. Gonzales was part of the team that came up with the rationalization for torture, as well as for the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans' e-mail and phone calls.

If Mr. Gonzales has developed a respect for legislative intent or a commitment to law enforcement, he could start by using his department's power to enforce the Voting Rights Act to protect Americans, rather than challenging minority voting rights and endorsing such obviously discriminatory practices as the gerrymandering in Texas or the Georgia voter ID program. He could enforce workplace safety laws, like those so tragically unenforced at the nation's coal mines, instead of protecting polluters and gun traffickers.

He could uphold the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture, instead of coming up with cynical justifications for violating them. He could repudiate the disgraceful fiction known as "unlawful enemy combatant," which the administration cooked up after 9/11 to deny legal rights to certain prisoners.

And he could suggest that the administration follow Congress's clear and specific intent for the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: outlawing wiretaps of Americans without warrants.

Leaning on corporate- or any rivals in a public forum is the Reptilican way, but it may require more than the Oval Orifice, the PentaclePentagon, and the $upremes to Rule the Empire.

Then again, maybe not.

Take for example, the cesspool formerly known as the Congress of the United States, where the alligators are thrashing:

... Resentment boiled among senior Republicans for a second day on Tuesday after a team of warrant-bearing agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned up at a closed House office building on Saturday evening, demanded entry to the office of a lawmaker and spent the night going through his files.

The episode prompted cries of constitutional foul from Republicans — even though the lawmaker in question, Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, is a Democrat whose involvement in a bribery case has made him an obvious partisan political target.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert raised the issue personally with President Bush on Tuesday. The Senate Rules Committee is examining the episode.

The Hon. Jeff Johnson is a red-handed thief, of course, doubtless contributing in a major way to the chaos in Louisiana and elsewhere, and a DINOcrat to boot, but the Honorable Hastert is willing to at least look like he's going to bat for him because hey, what Congressman hasn't picked up a hundred thousand here and there to expedite some company business?

If the Hammer was still around this wouldn't have played out this way... but I wonder if it's occurred to Hastert that there was a reason the Hammer was retired to the toolbox?

It certainly feels uncomfortable to have the jackboot on the other foot.

Now there may be another reason the Department of Justice, Truthiness, and the American way has decided to make an example of Jefferson, and a reason they did out out front and mid-session:

WASHINGTON, May 23 — The Senate Intelligence Committee strongly endorsed Gen. Michael V. Hayden on Tuesday to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with all but three members, all Democrats, voting to send General Hayden's nomination to the Senate floor.

The panel's 12-to-3 vote virtually guarantees that General Hayden will win confirmation by the full Senate, which is likely to vote on his selection before the end of the week...

That and the little reminder to libertarian-posturing rethuglicans from Dear Leader that he has ways to deal with Congresscritters that aren't with his pogromprogram.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Axis of Midieval Pumps the Shock Troops, while Bobbleheads Suggest Professionals

Digby points to a description of a Battle Cry rally in Philadelphia, which sounds pretty much like descriptions of them we're heard elsewhere.

If you've never heard of Franklin Graham (Billy's wacko love child), you should. That boy has the Elmer Gantry schtick down cold.

Elsewhere in cyberspace, Ted Koppel thinks it would be a good idea if Dear Leader went on and just made his mercenaries security contractors government employees. All 50,000 of 'em in Iraq right now.

NEW YORK Little known to the American public, there are some 50,000 private contractors in Iraq, providing support for the U.S. military, among other activities. So why not go all the way, hints Ted Koppel in a New York Times op-ed on Monday, and form a real "mercenary army"?

Such a move involving what he calls "latter-day Hessians" would represent, he writes, "the inevitable response of a market economy to a host of seemingly intractable public policy and security problems..."

Let's forget all about those Geneva Conventions. They're for chocolate-making countries anyway. Hessians and Americans mixed really well during the Revolutionary War.

I'm sure Dear Leader has plans for them.

Do You Trust Your Bank Account to the NSA?

All veterans at risk of ID theft after data heist
Burglar reportedly took Veterans Affairs disk containing personal info

...America's veterans were sent scrambling for their credit reports Monday, as the Veteran's administration announced nearly all of them — and some of their family members — were at heightened risk for identity theft.

A long-time analyst at the massive federal agency was blamed for the theft of 26.5 million Social Security numbers after he took home sensitive data and his home was burglarized, the agency said. Now the VA is sending letters to every living veteran and some of their spouses with the bad news...

Darth Rumsfeld is great with plans for total world domination but not so great with protecting the troops.

It's hard being hegemon, especially if you're a C average student from Yale.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Towards a Fête de la Fédération

Go ahead. Build a fence. Post National Guard troops elbow to elbow along the Mexican border from Texas to California.

Hire more Border Patrol agents and buy them more sensitive electronic gadgets so they can detect every wrinkle of human behavior from Bisbee Junction to Tule Well in the desert west of Ajo.

In Arizona, let's arrest illegal immigrants for trespassing, toss their kids out of school and lock them out of our hospital emergency rooms.

But before we cough up the mega-bucks to make all this happen, let's be honest and acknowledge that none of these tactics will resolve our immigration problems in the long run.

We do not say "might not." We say "will not."

Not a chance.

There's nothing in human history to indicate that people will stay poor, oppressed and miserable for any longer than they have to. They will always find a way to improve the conditions of life. They will seek out political and financial security.

In short, they will go looking for what the rest of us want and have by virtue of where we were born...

Bu$hCo solution: Take away political and financial security for everyone here, too, and leave it for Company members in good standing and appropriate breeding.

Let them eat Krispy Kremes, sez She of the Beautiful Mind.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Legal is as legal does.

WASHINGTON, May 18 — Gen. Michael V. Hayden sought on Thursday to distance himself from the Pentagon and its role in prewar intelligence on Iraq, in an appearance that put him on track to win swift confirmation as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, General Hayden appeared in the pristine blue uniform he has worn for 36 years as an Air Force officer.

But he repeatedly professed his independence from the Defense Department and its leadership, saying he had been "uncomfortable" with the work of a Pentagon intelligence office run by Douglas J. Feith, a former undersecretary of defense, which asserted in the months before the Iraq war that Iraq had established ties with operatives for Al Qaeda in the Middle East...

Which is of course why he was put in charge of a policy Chancellor Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans, headed by Feith, emphasized.

General Hayden also recounted disagreements with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about the Pentagon's control over a large part of America's annual intelligence budget...

That's right. If it isn't black budget, it can be traced. On the other hand, if the Pentagon controls all the agencies they get all their budgets and get to tell them what to do, too.

..General Hayden flatly defended as legal the secret domestic eavesdropping program he ran until last year as director of the National Security Agency, and that argument was directly challenged by only a handful of Democratic senators...

Are Democrats the foolish obstructionists or the loyal opposition this week? Of course, Clinton was better: his NSA bothered with getting the rubber stamp of judicial approval when his NSA listened in on everybody. Which of course makes the trolling legitimate.

But he notably declined to endorse a Bush administration stance that has severely limited the number of senators who could be briefed on the program. "It was not my decision," he said...

Isn't Don Negroponte a great coach?

None of the 15 senators on the committee indicated that they planned to vote against General Hayden's nomination. By day's end, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the committee, said he hoped to hold votes in the committee and the full Senate next week that could install General Hayden at the C.I.A. by Memorial Day...

Well that settles that. It's all legal, and he is totally uninfluenced by the other Sith Lords of the Pentagon, 'cause he said so. Loyal opposition, indeed. The best Senate money can buy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Class Warfare as a Requisite for Rule

The for-Western-eyes-only news out of Hong Kong gives a review of a book any oligarch would find bracing:

SAO PAULO - Pentagon planners must have loved what happened in South America's premier hypercity in the past few days; as urban warfare goes, it was more illuminating than Baghdad or Gaza. The leaders of the First Capital Command (PCC, for Primeiro Comando da Capital) - a super-gang involved in drug and arms trafficking, kidnappings, bank robberies and extortion and controlling most of Sao Paulo's overcrowded and notoriously corrupt prisons - declared war against Brazil's wealthiest state.

From inside their prison cells, using US$150 mobile phones, they ordered motorcyclist "bin Ladens" - warriors indebted to the PCC, heavily armed with guns, shotguns, hand grenades, machine-guns and Molotov cocktails - to conduct a violent orgy: spraying police cars with bullets, hurling grenades at police stations, attacking officers in their homes and after-hours hangouts, torching dozens of buses (after passengers had been ordered off), and robbing banks. Almost 100 people were killed in three days. On Monday, the PCC managed single-handedly virtually to paralyze Sao Paulo, the third-largest of the world's hypercities (those with more than 19 million people).

The PCC leaders were demanding better jail conditions; and crucially - as this is soccer-mad Brazil - a few dozen television sets so inmates can follow the World Cup in Germany next month. Sooner or later, with better coordination, demonstrations of force like this one will inevitably spread to Rio de Janeiro's slums, also a drug-dealing beehive. Brazil's mega-cities are used to urban civil war. And the war has been on since at least the late 1970s. "Baghdad is here" has become a common mantra...

I'm sure the Pentagon would be interested, since many right wing observers are taking pains to assert these are "leftist" gangs no doubt resulting from the 2002 election of a popular relative leftist president, Lula da Silva and the more recent election of an even more leftist Sao Paulo governor, Andre Franco Montoro.

But back to the review of "Planet of Slums" by Mike Davis:

...We're heading toward a world where "cities will account for virtually all future world population growth, which is expected to peak at about 10 billion in 2050".

Already the combined populations of China, India and Brazil roughly equal that of Western Europe and North America. By 2025, Asia will have at least 10 hypercities, including Jakarta (24.9 million people), Dhaka (25 million), Karachi (26.5 million), Shanghai (27 million) and Mumbai (with a staggering 33 million). Davis also refers to the coming leviathan of the Rio/Sao Paulo Extended Metropolitan Region, a 450-kilometer-long axis between the two Brazilian mega-cities already encompassing 37 million people, even more than the Tokyo-Yokohama conurbation (33 million)...

The review, not to mention the book itself, paints an accurate if unsettling picture of the gathering Malthusian tsunami of the urban poor, and if anything underestimates the fraction of the human race caught up in the wave.

The review, and the book itself, lay the blame for the mess at the feet of the World Bank. Reasonably so. Western oligarchs seem to have the imperial monomania, and are willing to use any means possible to extend their neo-feudal dominion.

One notes however the thread of despair that wends its way through the text. Obviously, the credulous reader is drawn to think, what's needed is intelligent rule of the unruly masses. The only difference from the Eastasian angle as opposed to the anti-leftist Oceanic view is the proper identity of the appropriate Dear Leader.

Nowhere is the need for education, employment, or economic justice addressed. Obviously all that is too much for the reader to expect. Obviously all the unrest must be due to simply the need for crimelords in prison to impress the street with their solidarity over the need to watch the World Cup.

The simple children. Big Brother knows what's best for them. All that remains is for the grown-ups to decide who the appropriate Big Brother will be.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Modest Proposal

WASHINGTON, May 17 — The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors.

With friends like those, you can start a War on Terra anywhere- even your own back yard.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders.

Using some of the same high-priced, high-tech tools these companies have already put to work in Iraq and Afghanistan — like unmanned aerial vehicles, ground surveillance satellites and motion-detection video equipment — the military contractors are zeroing in on the rivers, deserts, mountains and settled areas that separate Mexico and Canada from the United States...

Through its Secure Border Initiative, the Bush administration intends to not simply buy an amalgam of high-tech equipment to help it patrol the borders — a tactic it has also already tried, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, with extremely limited success. It is also asking the contractors to devise and build a whole new border strategy that ties together the personnel, technology and physical barriers...

The effort comes as the Senate voted Wednesday to add hundreds of miles of fencing along the border with Mexico...

"Boots on the ground is not really enough," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday at a news conference that followed Mr. Bush's announcement to send as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the border.

The tools of modern warfare must be brought to bear. That means devices like the Tethered Aerostat Radar, a helium-filled airship made for the Air Force by Lockheed Martin that is twice the size of the Goodyear Blimp. Attached to the ground by a cable, the airship can hover overhead and automatically monitor any movement night or day. (One downside: it cannot operate in high winds.)

Northrop Grumman is considering offering its Global Hawk, an unmanned aerial vehicle with a wingspan nearly as wide as a Boeing 737, that can snoop on movement along the border from heights of up to 65,000 feet, said Bruce Walker, a company executive.

Closer to earth, Northrop might deploy a fleet of much smaller, unmanned planes that could be launched from a truck, flying perhaps just above a group of already detected immigrants so it would be harder for them to scatter into the brush and disappear.

Raytheon has a package of sensor and video equipment used to protect troops in Iraq that monitors an area and uses software to identify suspicious objects automatically, analyzing and highlighting them even before anyone is sent to respond.

These same companies have delivered these technologies to the Pentagon, sometimes with uneven results.

Each of these giant contractors — Lockheed Martin alone employs 135,000 people and had $37.2 billion in sales last year, including an estimated $6 billion to the federal government — is teaming up with dozens of smaller companies that will provide everything from the automated cameras to backup energy supplies that will to keep this equipment running in the desert.

The companies have studied every mile of border, drafting detection and apprehension strategies that vary depending on the terrain. In a city, for example, an immigrant can disappear into a crowd in seconds, while agents might have hours to apprehend a group walking through the desert, as long as they can track their movement.

If the system works, Border Patrol agents will know before they encounter a group of intruders approximately how many people have crossed, how fast they are moving and even if they might be armed...

The government's track record in the last decade in trying to buy cutting-edge technology to monitor the border — devices like video cameras, sensors and other tools that came at a cost of at least $425 million — is dismal.

Because of poor contract oversight, nearly half of video cameras ordered in the late 1990's did not work or were not installed. The ground sensors installed along the border frequently sounded alarms. But in 92 percent of the cases, they were sending out agents to respond to what turned out to be a passing wild animal, a train or other nuisances, according to a report late last year by the homeland security inspector general.

A more recent test with an unmanned aerial vehicle bought by the department got off to a similarly troubling start. The $6.8 million device, which has been used in the last year to patrol a 300-mile stretch of the Arizona border at night, crashed last month...

What's uneven about that? Nothing worked. I'd call those results consistent.

Here's another consistency: Dear Leader's trying to please two pillars of his base, the isolationist racists by building an Iron Curtain between the Corporate States of America and Mexico, and the Company regulars, by requiring all workers (citizen or not) to register everything about themselves with two government databases in order to get a job in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Now if he could only figure a way to rebuild his TheoCon coalition. The Robertson-Falwell-Graham Axis of Medieval is staying close to the One True Faith (in Dear Leader, of course) but it seems the Catholics in America have more sympathy with the workers than with the Scalia-Scalito Opus Dei party line. Most of the Church in the world is composed of Hispanics, alas, the very people the Don Negroponte used to order thrown out of Blackhawk helicopters in Central America. The Hitler Youth faction has always been a tiny abherrant minority in the Church, possibly because the humane truths the Church teaches are far larger than the small people who seek to take advantage of the Faithful, but alas such psychopaths are compulsive power seekers and election riggers.

That Dear Leader's figured out an angle to enrich his Carlyle Group affiliates and bring his War on Terra home speaks for the genius of the man. Blimps on the border. A testing ground for new DARPA toys to use against people who tend not to shoot back or carry shoulder-mounted missile launchers. That's a war game even Chancellor Rumsfeld's kind of Generals can win.

Speaking of consistency, it's really tough being a Reptilican or even a Wrethuglican when your senior statesmen types get chatty:

When reporters ask the White House about the NSA program that secretly collects “phone call records of tens of millions of Americans,” administration officials insist that they “cannot confirm or deny the claims in the USA Today story.”

Apparently, someone forgot to send the talking points to Senate Intelligence Committee member Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Here’s how Hatch responded to a question “about recent reports of the government compiling lists of Americans’ phone calls”:

Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that at least two of the chief judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been informed since 2001 of White House-approved National Security Agency monitoring operations.

“None raised any objections, as far as I know,” said Hatch, a member of a special Intelligence Committee panel appointed to oversee the NSA’s work.

By answering the reporter’s question directly, Hatch confirmed the program’s existence. This isn’t the first time Hatch has let classified information slip. From a September 2001 Chicago Tribune report:

A senior senator’s disclosure of highly classified information about the U.S. terrorism investigation has infuriated Bush administration officials and led to a clampdown on how much the White House will share with lawmakers.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters hours after terrorists crashed hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that U.S. intelligence had intercepted a telephone call from a suspect reporting to his handler that the targets in New York City and near Washington had been hit...

Hmm... funny how that never came out in the offical made for TV version...

It's tough establishing total world hegemony.

But given how many are already patting themselves on the back for the Democratic landslide victory this fall and in 2008, and triangulating against the potential conservative backlash, I have no doubts Dear Leader's Company will have their endless war and blank check for some time to come.

Is the Pope Catholic?

I realize that's more than a rhetorical question with Ratzo in charge, but I was referring to this question:

Is FBI Aiding NSA's U.S. Surveillance Efforts?

Do bears do what comes naturally in the woods?

Just remember when you read or write headlines like this, these agencies are not homogenous entities anymore. "The FBI" is aiding and abetting, modifying, impeding and expediting whatever individuals in the NSA- or CIA- or DIA are doing.

There is the Bu$hCo Company. And then there are other allegiances, only some of which are corporate competitors. And then there are people that regard themselves as operatives of an Agency.

Welcome to the multiverse.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More wishful thinking from people fighting the last $election...

Bush Is Now A Lame Duck
CBS' Meyer: Forget November, Forget '08; President Is Done

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2006-The great impulse of the punditocracy right now is to look at President Bush's swelling problems with the public and his party in the context of the elections coming up in November and then in 2008. Big mistake.

Short of another disaster on the scale of 9/11, George Bush no longer has the power, credibility or ability to effectively govern for the rest of his term in office. Contrary to what you hear on television, governing remains more important than campaigning. Government is more important than elections — to the extent the two can be differentiated anymore.

Bush's realm of efficacy will be limited to areas where he can make unilateral decisions, mostly in war and foreign policy. The tax cuts that oozed through Congress last week may well be his last "significant" piece of domestic legislation; I put quotations around significant because they are, in fact temporary. The entire menu of Bush tax tinkering is set to expire in 2010 on someone else's watch, an apt metaphor for this administration...

To this there's only one good response: never laugh at a live dragon. And the Bu$hCo beast isn't just one live one, it's a whole cabal of them.

So do lame ducks manage to pull off stunts like this?

New Presidential Memorandum Permits Intelligence Director To Authorize Telcos To Lie Without Violating Securities Law

In recent days, AT&T, Bell South and Verizon have all issued statements denying that they’ve handed over phone records to the NSA, as reported by USA today.

There are three possibilities:

1) The USA Today story is inaccurate;

2) The telcos left enough wiggle room in the statements that both the USA Today story and their statements are accurate; or

3) The statements from the telcos are inaccurate.

Ordinarily, a company that conceals their transactions and activities from the public would violate securities law. But an presidential memorandum signed by the President on May 5 allows the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to authorize a company to conceal activities related to national security. (See 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A))

There is no evidence that this executive order has been used by John Negroponte with respect to the telcos. Of course, if it was used, we wouldn’t know about it...

I've heard sincere progressives calling Dear Leader a lame duck since November 2004. Since then, Roberts and Alito have become Supreme Court Justices, among other disasters that may effect the long term state of the Union. There's naivety, and there's willful stupidity, and there's misleading the public, and to think the criminals in charge are anywhere close to relinquishing power is to be one or more of the above.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Doing the Same Thing Over and Expecting a Different Result

Molly Ivins:

I hate to raise such an ugly possibility, but have you considered lunacy as an explanation? Craziness would make a certain amount of sense. I mean, you announce you are going to militarize the Mexican border, but you assure the president of Mexico you are not militarizing the border. You announce you are sending the National Guard, but then you assure everyone it's not very many soldiers and just for a little while...

...right-wingers are very unhappy with Bush right now, and this is a strong, red-meat gesture that will make them happy, even if it does nothing to shut down the border. You want to shut down illegal immigration? You want to use the military as police? Make it illegal to hire undocumented workers and put the National Guard into enforcing that. Then rewrite NAFTA and invest in Mexico.

Meanwhile, further proof that the entire party is cuckoo comes to us with the passage of another $70 billion tax cut for the rich. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the average middle-income household will get a $20 tax cut, while those making more than $1 million a year will get nearly $42,000...

...Both President Bush and Veep Cheney are still going around claiming if you cut taxes, your tax revenues increase. No, they don't. Now we're just in whackoville. It's not true. Their own economists tell them it's not true, but they go about claiming it is with the same desperate tenacity they clung to false tales of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. How pathetic.

Speaking of lunacy, the saddest report from Iraq is that American soldiers showing signs of psychological distress and depression are being kept on active duty, increasing the risk of suicide. The Hartford Courant reports that even soldiers who have already been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome are kept on duty. This has led to an increase in the suicide rate - 22 soldiers in 2005. And as I have reported before, the military is unprepared to deal with the flood of head cases coming back from Iraq. How many ways can we mistreat our own soldiers, while the right makes this elaborate show of devotion to "the troops"?

The consistent pattern that runs through all these problems is the failure to distinguish fantasy from reality. Mexican immigrants keep crossing the border because they can get jobs here - and most of those jobs are provided by companies whose CEOs support George W. Bush. That's where he can have an impact on the problem, should he choose to do so.

The $70 billion tax cut is part of a continuing right-wing fantasy going back to the Laffer Curve. Of course, clinging to demonstrably false economic precepts is understandable when you benefit from them, but at some point reality does intervene.

As for the Iraq fantasy and those who pushed it on a reluctant country through lies, disinformation and bending intelligence - isn't there a law against that?

Yes there is Molly but I think we're fooling ourselves if we think we live in country where laws mean anything any more.

Case in point: the Indictment of Karl Rove only in selected corners of the multiverse. I don't want to diss hopeful progressives, but it isn't happening yet- if ever. Fitz, prove me wrong, where ever you are.

Exhibit B here in the Twilight Zone:
...Sen. Specter has finally made enough concessions to secure the support of the more right-wing members of the Judiciary Committee for his legislation that (along with a bill from Sen. DeWine) would render legal the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program. As part of this negotiation, what were these Bush allies (Hatch, Sessions, Cornyn, Kyl) holding out for? The removal from Sen. Specter's bill of a clause that would mandate that the FISA court rule on the legality and constitutionality of the NSA program...

That dog won't hunt.

Exhibit C, from Justin Rood: MZM, Inc. is part of the family of General Hayden's NSA. Literally, by marriage.

What was that Molly was saying about deja vu all over again?

Maybe in some fair land, under a cerulean sky, the cool wind blows free, and the wheels of justice spin. Not in this bubble of the multiverse.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Space: the final absurdity?

Doubtful. The silliness going on in Washington may be a black hole, but we've only begun to detect the event horizon.

Laura Rozen discusses the source rising buzz that the old Star Warriors have been using Darth Rumsfeld's satellites to spy on Americans.

Well. Maybe. I'm sure if the Chancellor could sink a few billion here and there into General Dynamics or Westinghouse or Computer Science Corporation/ DynCorp pockets to try to see into Al Gore's bedroom window, he would. In fact, I'm sure he has.

But it really doesn't matter because there are other tools- like phones and medical records and banking and internet records to figure out everything Al Gore's been doing for the last 6 years.

And AL KNOWS IT. And still does what he's got to do.

So yes, I hope Russel Tice finds someone to listen to him. Carefully. That's a lot of money, even by Pentagon black budget standards, the Star Wars crew has. But dammit all, it smells like a red herring of diversion to me.

You don't need to worry about unseen snoopers a hundred miles up reading your license plate.

You've got plenty of cameras and officious bastards right here on earth ready and willing to note your license plate if you've still got your "Enron/ Halliburton '04" bumper sticker.

You've got theocon maniacs rallying in the tens of thousands in major cities calling for a jihadcrusade against the infidels.

You've paleocon racists wanting to deal with immigrants the same way the Nazis dealt with outsiders in the early 20th century.

You've got a desperate politician deploying troops to our borders, alarming the hell out of the neighbors.

And you've got all those empty brand new concentration camps detention centers for the Undocumented.

Dear Leader may be down to his core 30 percentile. But watch it. The smaller the percentage of the population that supports him, the more insane they all will be.

No need to worry all about Skynet watching you. You've got enough trouble right here on the ground in this timeline.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Inside Job

As time goes by, it will be harder for the Bu$hCo partisans to keep a lid on things like this, unless they manage to produce their police state.

Media hide truth: 9/11 was inside job
By Kevin Barrett
Last Saturday, former Bush administration official Morgan Reynolds drew an enthusiastic capacity crowd to the Wisconsin Historical Society auditorium. It is probably the first time in Historical Society history that a political talk has drawn a full house on a Saturday afternoon at the beginning of final exams.

Reynolds, the former director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and the ex-top economist for George W. Bush's Labor Department, charged the Bush administration with gross malfeasance, and proposed the prosecution of top administration officials.

Normally, if a prestigious UW alumnus and ex-Bush administration official were to come to the Wisconsin Historical Society to spill the beans about a Bush administration scandal, it would make the news. The local TV stations would cover it, and it would merit front page headlines in The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal.

Reynolds' indictment of the administration he worked for was a stunning, life-changing event for many of those who witnessed it. As the event's organizer, I have received dozens of e-mails about it from people who were deeply affected.

Despite the prestigious speaker and venue, and the gravity of the charges aired, for most Americans indeed most Madisonians the event never happened. Why? Because it was censored, subjected to a total media blackout. Not a word in the State Journal. Not a word in The Capital Times. Not a word on the local TV news. Not a word on local radio news. And, of course, not a word in the national media.

Why the blackout? Because Reynolds violated the ultimate U.S. media taboo. He charges the Bush administration with orchestrating the 9/11 attacks as a pretext for launching a preplanned "long war" in the Middle East, rolling back our civil liberties, and massively increasing military spending.

When a former Bush administration insider makes such charges, how can the media ignore them? Is Reynolds a lone crank? Hardly. A long list of prominent Americans have spoken out for 9/11 truth: Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Sen. Barbara Boxer, former head of the Star Wars program Col. Robert Bowman, ex-Reagan administration economics guru Paul Craig Roberts, progressive Jewish author-activist Rabbi Michael Lerner, former CIA official Ray McGovern, author-essayist Gore Vidal, and many other respected names from across the political spectrum have gone on the record for 9/11 truth.

Are the media ignoring all these people, and dozens more like them, because there is no evidence to support their charges? Hardly. Overwhelming evidence, from the obvious air defense stand-down, to the nonprotection of the president in Florida, to the blatant controlled demolition of World Trade Center building 7, proves that 9/11 was an inside job. As noted philosopher-theologian and 9/11 revisionist historian David Griffin writes: "It is already possible to know, beyond a reasonable doubt, one very important thing: the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job, orchestrated by terrorists within our own government."

A growing list of scientists has lined up behind BYU physicist Steven Jones and MIT engineer Jeff King in support of Griffin's position, as evidenced by the growth of Scholars for 9/11 Truth (st911.org) and Scientific Professionals Investigating 9/11 (physics911.net).

As a Watergate-era graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism, I was taught that exposing government lies and corruption is the supreme duty of the Fourth Estate. I simply cannot fathom the current situation. I do not understand the 9/11 truth blackout. I wish someone would explain it to me...

It's simple, Kevin. The Company owns the media.

Why Qwest Didn't Have to Give Up Their Clients to the NSA

Qwest and the NSA are owned by the same people.

From Avedon Carol, with a couple of extra links tossed in to fill out the picture:

A little googling found this: An overlooked story makes more sense now: The Carlyle Group and Welsh Carson Close Qwest Dex East Deal [thecarlylegroup.com , 01/02/03] Formerly thought to be benign, this transaction provides Carlyle with personal and business data profitable for re-selling to Poindexter's Total Information Awareness System "The Carlyle Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe today closed the first part - Dex East - of their purchase of Qwest Communications' yellow page directories business."

So, before you switch to Qwest as your telco, you might want to do a little more research.

Thus, we are grateful to Atrios for recommending the provider he says he's been happy with for years, Working Assets, the only telephone company that has joined ACLU's suit against the NSA...

While Dear Leader's about as tricky as any other late middle aged alcoholic, the Company as an entity is an entirely different matter...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

They wouldn't be lying now would they?

WASHINGTON — Veterans groups and advocates worried about the health effects of depleted uranium on soldiers won a victory this week.

The House included an amendment in the defense policy bill that it passed Thursday ordering the Pentagon to study the impact of depleted uranium exposure on troops and their children. The Senate could begin debate on the bill this month.

Depleted uranium, or DU, is what remains after natural uranium’s radioactive fraction is removed for use as nuclear fuel or weapons. Because DU is very dense, the military uses it for armor-piercing weapons and armor protection, and in some tanks.

Troops have been exposed to it during the gulf war, in Bosnia and in Iraq.

“If DU poses no danger, we need to prove it with statistically valid and independent scientific studies,” said Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, the amendment’s author, who has been sounding an alarm for several years. “If DU harms our soldiers, we all need to know it and act quickly.”

Veterans groups and other activists contend that when equipment containing DU is destroyed on the battlefield, exposure to the dust poses radioactive risks to military personnel, as do embedded fragments.

Many refer to it as the next Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant used in Vietnam that was thought at the time to be harmless...

[Thanks to Michael Moore for the heads up.]

Dioxin was known to be a teratogen and a carcinogen in the 70s. Although according to the military, "everybody" knew it was harmless. Everyone except biomedical scientists, one supposes. For example, see

*Fishbein, L. Mutagens and potential mutagens in the biosphere. I. DDT and its metabolites, polychlorinated biphenyls, chlorodioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, haloethers. Science of the Total Environment. 2(4):305-40, 1974 Jul.

or how about this:

*Kimbrough, RD. Toxicity of chlorinated hydrocarbons and related compounds. A review including chlorinated dibenzodioxins and chlorinated dibenzofurans. Archives of Environmental Health. 25(2):125-31, 1972 Aug.

Both published a long time before the web.

This is the same military that claims strontium 90 paint with a radioactivity of 10 Curies per square centimeter isn't dangerous, right?

Depleted uranium is toxic and radioactive and doesn't belong in weapons, since it hurts everyone, friend or foe. And it doesn't go away.

And we know about its dangers now.

It's a teratogen.

It's incredibly toxic on a long-term basis.

Scientists- NIH funded scientists- know this now. Even though, according to Chancellor Rumsfeld's military, "everyone knows" depleted uranium is "safe" to use in munitions. If you believe a word these bastards say about anything.

Big Piranha Brothers, Inc.

"Oh yes Kipling Road was a typical East End Street, people were in and out of each other's houses with each other's property all day. They were a cheery lot."


If someone would just translate The Leviathan into modern colloquial English – or even better, turn it into a comic book – I think Shrub might discover a new favorite philosopher...

The ultimate enemy, in the Hobbesian universe, is anarchy – the dreaded war of the all against the all – in which human life is rapidly reduced to its natural state: “solitary, poor nasty, brutish and short.” Even the most ruthless repression is preferable to that horror...

...riots and sectarian hatred were as common in the slums of London and Paris as they are today in the streets of Baghdad, although without the heavy explosives. Hobbes’s Leviathan – for all his attempts to build up its confidence – was really just the largest piranha, swimming in a pool filled with piranhas.

Two world wars, a dozen genocides and innumerable police states later, the piranha truly has grown into a whale: an armor-plated, nuclear-armed, supercomputing whale with a bad case of paranoia. An tyrannical state may still be preferable to sheer anarchy – as the citizens of Baghdad learn nightly – but it’s a closer contest than it was in 1651.

One reason for that shift in the balance of dread is the rise of a new form of state organization – the bureaucracy, which exists partially inside and partially outside of Hobbes’s three categories of government, borrowed from Aristotle, and their modern equivalents: monarchy (or dictatorship), aristocracy (or oligarchy) and democracy (or the representative republic.)...

It’s essentially mindless, driven by a set of basic imperatives, of which the most relentless is the urge to grow, to expand both in size and power. To paraphrase Edward Abbey: It has the ideology of a cancer cell.

This is particularly true when the officials at the top of the heap – who are theoretically in the driver’s seat – are either incompetent, corrupt (and thus not inclined to challenge the status quo) or driven by their own personal imperatives, such as obsessive fear of external or internal enemies...

But what makes the program so scary, at least to me, isn’t the possibility that it was built to serve some sinister purpose, like subverting what’s left of American democracy (which is scary enough) but rather that it may be the end product of a national security bureaucracy running completely out of control -- even more so now than during the worst years of the Cold War. Rogue actors can still be voted out of office, even impeached. But a rogue Leviathan is another story.

I’m certainly no technical expert, but I find it really hard to believe that collecting such a staggering horde – 2 trillion call records since 2001 – will yield useful intelligence about a relatively small and increasingly amorphous network of clandestine operatives who by now have almost certainly learned not to use the phones...

But phone records, of course, are just the electronic frosting on Big Brother’s birthday cake...

William Arkin has posted a list on his Washingtonpost.com blog of some 500 different DoD data mining packages, which appear to cover everything -- financial records, medical records, e-mail headers, fingerprints, insurance investigation files, news reports, and God knows what else...

... it reflects some powerful, built-in trends that are driving the national security Leviathan in that very direction. These include, roughly in ascending order of importance:

* The U.S. intelligence community’s traditional faith in technology as the all-purpose solution to its obvious deficiencies in human intelligence gathering.

* The even more long-standing tradition – at work since the first Europeans arrived on the continent – of substituting cheap capital (processor chips) for expensive labor (spooks.)

* The economic need to stuff the giant, gaping maw of the defense industry with IT contracts, and the willingness of guys like Brent Wilkes to hand out poker chips and pussy in order to obtain same.

* The complete lack of any countervailing force in American politics, to the point where it is no longer possible to imagine any president – much less a retired general – standing up to warn his fellow citizens about the growing power of the military-industrial complex.

* The replication of the behavior and values of that same complex throughout corporate America and in American society as a whole.

...The millions of Americans, like yours truly, who work in the corporate or public sector white collar world have already grown accustomed to a loss of personal privacy and a degree of social control that make Pentagon data mining look like an ACLU fundraising dinner.

We know our phone calls and emails may be and often are monitored, that company net nannies will stop us from visiting certain web sites (and not just porn pages: I’ve been blocked out of labor union sites, progressive political sites – even that notorious left-wing web magazine, Slate.) We know that if we say the wrong thing to a company snitch it could be reported to our supervisors, that those reports could end up in our personnel files, and that really serious thought crimes could cost us our jobs. We know the security cameras may record when we walk in the door and when we leave. We know we can’t make certain jokes or raise certain topics because they might be construed as sexual harassment. We know how to smile and feign enthusiasm when the pointy-haired boss has a really dumb idea. We know what a cult of personality looks like, because it looks like our CEO...

it is a training ground of sorts, a place where habits of thought and social roles are acquired and reinforced – patterns that are then reflected in the popular culture. The lesson learned is submission to authority, or at least the passive acceptance of hierarchical relationships. It teaches people to be good bureaucrats, and good bureaucrats understand that if the organization is tapping phones – or infecting test subjects with syphilis or dumping toxic waste in rivers or shipping undesirable people off to concentration camps – it must have a good reason.

The result is a social contract that owes a lot to Thomas Hobbes. In exchange for the economic security that corporations provide – a degree of shelter from an anarchic global market – we willingly, if grudgingly (at least in my case) give up a hefty share of our freedom and an even bigger chunk of our privacy.

..an awfully large number of our fellow citizens have already decided, or have been conditioned to believe, that it’s better to be subjects and let others make the hard decisions for them.

...Leviathan, in other words, is almost free of any restraint, save the arbitrary limits – such as they may be – set by the Cheney administration or, perhaps more importantly, by custom and habit. The creature doesn’t know all the things it can do, but only because it hasn’t tried to do them yet. But it’s starting to figure this out, and it’s going to take more than an election and a few corruption probes to make it back down...

Learn to love the Leviathan. You're going to live with the Beast if you live here:

Vince: "Well one day I was at home threatening the kids when I looks out through the hole in the wall and sees this tank pull up and out gets one of Dinsdale's boys, so he comes in nice and friendly and says Dinsdale wants to have a word with me, so he chains me to the back of the tank and takes me for a scrape round to Dinsdale's place and Dinsdale's there in the conversation pit with Doug and Charles Paisley, the baby crusher, and two film producers and a man they called 'Kierkegaard', who just sat there biting the heads of whippets and Dinsdale says 'I hear you've been a naughty boy Clement' and he splits me nostrils open and saws me leg off and pulls me liver out and I tell him my name's not Clement and then... he loses his temper and nails me head to the floor."

Interviewer: He nailed your head to the floor?

Vince: At first yeah

Presenter: Another man who had his head nailed to the floor was Stig O' Tracy.

Interviewer: I've been told Dinsdale Piranha nailed your head to the floor.

Stig: No. Never. He was a smashing bloke. He used to buy his mother flowers and that. He was like a brother to me..."

All it takes is a little attitude adjustment, and the Kool-Aid goes down fine.